There’s no point in beating about the bush when it comes to the Durban July. You put your raceform-studying wizardry on the line – along with hunches, dreams, star-gazing, bone-throwing and voodoo spells – and make your stand on the great race.
ALSO READ: Big money to be won at Durban July
At high risk of a face-and-egg outcome, here is a candid run-down of the runners (number/draw, name, trainer, weight, jockey, odds) ahead of the 126th edition of the annual race at Greyville on Saturday.
1 Aragosta (Mike de Kock) 53kg Warren Kennedy 9-1
Money talks, and the SA Derby winner has been heavily backed over the past week.
The son of hot sire Rafeef put up an impressive public gallop and has the soon-to-be champion jockey on his back.
Chuck in a pittance of weight and the argument is compelling, but does he have the class of the main opposition?
Something else to consider: Master trainer De Kock co-owns this horse but has three other well-fancied runners in the race owned by high-value folk. What will he be saying to them in the parade ring before the race?
2 Do It Again (Justin Snaith) 58.5kg Aldo Domeyer 14-1
A magnificent beast. He won the race in 2018 and 2019 and was placed in the last two years.
He’s seven now, but still has the class, desire and liking for Greyville. A first July treble in 126 years? One for the oldies? You bet!
3 Hoedspruit (Justin Snaith) 53.5kg Craig Zackey 12-1
One of a record five runners for his trainer, who has been talking him up as a very improved horse.
Decent form, good rider, low weight. Not that far north of a likely winner. A dark horse.
4 Linebacker (Vaughan Marshall) 58.5kg Grant van Niekerk 5-1
Close runner-up last year, so obviously well-fancied. More weight this time and hasn’t won in more than a year.
Can’t cast him aside, but not one of the favourites.
5 Puerto Manzano (Johan Janse van Vuuren) 55.5kg Raymond Danielson 75-1
No way, José.
7 Waterberry Lane (Dean Kannemeyer) 53kg Keagan de Melo 22-1
You might end up in Penny Lane betting on this guy.
8 Pomp And Power (Justin Snaith) 53kg Richard Fourie 7-1
Crazy, stroppy, bolshy … and fast.
“Pomp is Pomp,” explained his jockey amusingly as pundits tut-tutted about the youngster’s bad behaviour before setting off on his public gallop last week.
Some reckon he’ll blow his July chances by getting all sweated-up in the prelims, but with Fourie’s easy confidence, he has a big chance.
9 Jet Dark (Justin Snaith) 60kg Bernard Fayd’Herbe 20-1
We’re the ones in the dark, due to stamina doubts and a big weight.
10 Safe Passage (Mike de Kock) 54.5kg Muzi Yeni 4-1
Came from nowhere in the betting to top of the boards after winning the Daily News 2000, a July “pointer” and a test of the best three-year-olds in the country in any given year.
So, theoretically, he’s a worthy favourite. But is the three-year-old crop any great shakes? Maybe not.
11 Belgarion (Justin Snaith) 59.5kg Piere Strydom 33-1
The main plus factor for the 2020 July winner is “Striker” Strydom back in the saddle after a long injury-enforced break.
But the jockey supreme has his work cut out as neither he nor his mount are likely to be fit enough.
12 Sparkling Water (Mike de Kock) 53.5kg S’Manga Khumalo 12-1
The sole filly in the race. De Kock has been very positive about her chances, so we must take heed.
Also, the former champion jockey and July winner chose to ride her over other top July contenders.
But she’s drifted in the ante-post betting, suggesting early confidence has ebbed.
13 Kommetdieding (Harold Crawford & Michelle Rix) 60kg Gavin Lerena 14-1
A rag to riches story and the most popular July winner in many a year when he took the crown in 2021.
Then he went on to win the Cape Town Met and become a legend. However, since then he has been off peak, with a disappointing Highveld sojourn casting doubt on his readiness this time around.
But he is a superstar.
14 Red Saxon (Joey Soma) 53kg Serino Moodley 75-1
Barring Joey, Serino and co-owner Miss S Bhana, we’ll all see red if this bloke wins.
15 Second Base (Johan Janse van Vuuren) 54.5kg Kabelo Matsunyane 75-1
Sorry, not even close.
16 Al Muthana (Mike de Kock) 58kg Callan Murray 33-1
Some stamina doubts and a wide draw, but you’ve got to look a bit deeper.
First, there’s the De Kock factor. Second, rising star Callan Murray has flown all the way from his new base in Australia to spend 10 minutes on the four-year-old’s back (although he might just be here on holiday). Third, he’s ultra-consistent.
He has punters in two minds.
17 Astrix (Paul Peter) 56.5kg JP van der Merwe 100-1
Watch out! He might be the rank outsider with a wide draw, but he’s got Obelix on his side – in the shape of leading trainer Paul Peter bidding for his first July victory.
A slug of magic potion and who knows?
18 Flying Carpet (Sean Tarry) 53.5kg Calvin Habib 35-1
He needs one.
19(6) Airways Law (Andre Nel) 53kg ….. 18-1
Emergency landing as a last-minute addition to the line-up.
A late developer with brilliant recent form. Jet-powered in a finish. Fate beckons. It’s the law…
2 Do It Again
19 Airways Law
8 Pomp And Power
SUGGESTED QUARTET (likely pool R10-million!)
2 x 3 x 8 x 10 x 13 x 17 x 19 (if you’re nervous, add 1 and 16)
Follow our live blog for updates throughout the weekend from the Durban July.